In the Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples that "ask and it will be given to you." To my youthful ears this made it seem as though God were the ultimate giver of presents. New bike? Just ask. Those really cool tennis shoes? Right there on request.
Of course, this happy view bumps up against the messy realities of life. About four years ago my mother was ill. To say that I "asked" God to heal her would be a monumental understatement. I prayed, begged and lit candles, but God decided to take her to Heaven. Any believer who has undergone a family tragedy has certainly had a similar experience.
So how do we reconcile this reality with the Gospel? I think a lot of it has to do with what is really meant by "ask." In an important way, we don't really know what we are asking for. Really about all we have the capacity to ask for is to be accepted as children of God. And God does accept us as His own despite our sins, failings and shortcomings. All we have to do is ask.
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